We’re often taught to think of jazz’s history as a cavalcade of distinguished men and their bands, but from its beginnings, the music was often in the hands of women. Women have been making jazz music for as long as it has existed, yet we might rarely think about the contributions and accomplishments of a great number of female singers, instrumentalists, composers and arrangers that have been lost to jazz’s deeper archives.
Regardless of them being a minority in what is a largely male-dominated world, there is one area of the genre where females have always shone and flourished–the sphere of the jazz vocalist. The best female jazz singers possess unique voices and personalities which truly ensure they hold their own against their male counterparts.
Crooner and singer-songwriter Zuva Ashley Nyemba is standing her femme ground on the Zimbabwean live jazz scene. While her discography is yet to proliferate, her cadence moves fluidly between warm picturesque, hopeful, and sometimes melancholy vibes. Already hailed by the music press as a virtuoso, her unique smoky-hued, breathy tone and musicality evoke an aching nostalgia for an undefined time. The sultry notes of Mary Wilson and the soul of Cassandra Wilson meet in the velvet of her voice.
An aspiring medical practitioner, her story of balancing the two dreams is super amazing and inspirational.
With just two singles under her sleeve – Silence, Zuva NeZuva – and many renditions to juggle, Zuva has graced stages and venues around Harare that include Alliance Francaise, National Gallery of Zimbabwe First Fridays, Zimbabwe German Society, Chez Zandi and at several cooperate events, restaurants and weddings.
In 2018 she performed at the British Ambassador’s birthday celebration.
A keen performer whose zeal to learn the musical and performance landscape is as plain as a pikestaff, Zuva was accepted into the Unplugged Artist’s Development Program, where she was mentored and given the tools to manage her music as a business. She also works alongside Blessing Bled Chimanga, Zimbabwe’s drumming legend, who has mentored her from the beginning of her journey.
Zuva’s music can be found on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon, and Deezer.
Editorial: This month, #enthuse, through our #SheCreatesMarch feature series, celebrates the work of thirty-one Zimbabwean women creatives, the contributions and achievements they have made throughout history, culture, and society. The idea is to elevate visibility for commercial projects and commissions. Discover the work of avant-garde creatives who embody the spirit of the month by uplifting and empowering women. Representing diverse backgrounds and disciplines, these women share one thing in common: their dedication to supporting women and sharing their stories through art and creativity. We are thrilled to share their work. And this month is about them. #ChooseToChallenge